We are all born with expectations. Expectations of how our life should be. Expectations of how people should act and what to expect.
The dictionary defines this term as:–noun. 1. the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation. 2. the act or state of looking forward or anticipating. 3. an expectant mental attitude: .And every day, these ideas are shot and shredded by some person with a Glock, laughing his or her head off at the human race. At least, in my world.
Let’s talk parenthood. As everyone knows, my first son trotted off to school and I anticipated what would happen. My disastrous orientation only fueled my fears. To update my dear peeps, I will tell you when the bus pulled away, I collapsed onto the driveway in a state that foreshadowed a funeral and not the first day of school. The bus driver promptly stopped the bus to call out the window if she needed to call an ambulance, thinking I had a heart attack. Bless my husband. He just waved her off while I sobbed and said I was always like this. Great first impression.
Got myself together and followed the bus to school. Parked the car, raced out with Joshie hanging from my hip to be promptly told by the crossing guard I was not able to park there. I burst into tears. She then waved me onward, stating first time kindergarten mothers could park there. I rushed in to make sure Jake did not wander off somewhere and get lost, and was impressed by the organized chaos in the building and realized they had all the kids under a strict watchful eye. I snuck into his classroom to find him sitting perfectly still in his seat. When he spotted me, he gave a big grin and waved, “HI, Mommy.” I asked about the bus ride which he replied “Was fun.” With nothing seemingly to worry about, I trudged off and spent the next few hours crying and marveling that my son was ok without me.
The days have passed with normalcy and my expectations of sheer disaster have been averted.
When Joshie started pre-k, I was feeling quite confident. He was more social than Jake and knew the teachers. I assumed he’d kick me to the curb in a minute and I would trot off happy. NOT. He clung and weeped and did not want to participate for most of the session. Needless to say, I got in late to work because I stayed, completely nonplussed that each child had done what was least expected. A lesson that keeps repeating over and over and over….
How about marriage? Whew – that one is interesting. I used to think finding my soul mate would defy all odds of normalcy. Marriage expectations are so unfair, because they are based on dating. Dating your soul mate rocks. Sex all the time, dinners out, partying to all hours and sleeping in late. You actually go places and see things of culture and interest. You actually talk about meaningful topics. Why wouldn’t you expect it to go onward and upward?
My husband and I passed our 6 year anniversary and my hope of all hopes was to go and see a movie together. Maybe even get to talk over a slice of pizza. We are not sex/love partners. We are work partners. We have crap to do: take care of the kids, the house and pay our bills. We like to watch Survivor together and Big Brother for fun. When I am excited to tell my husband about something, I have to rush through the story because the kids sense they are not the focus of our lives and hurriedly try to halt the conversation immediately and loudly.
And the sex? The last time I was exhausted and asked him why we were doing it again so soon. He sadly informed me of the real length of time that had passed. Quite embarrassing, so I won’t share here.
Let’s take our writing. I expect certain things from characters or myself and get waylaid each time. During the writing of The Marriage Bargain (which I am still trying to sell), my secondary character leapt off the page. I had originally been using her as a subplot, but she was so dynamic and stubborn, she completely overshadowed my poor heroine. So, I decided to dump her and give her her own book. Have not started it yet but she is still bothering me – tugging at my subconscious consistently saying, “What about me?” in a demanding voice. This one does not whine, she demands and she gets. But I am still unsure what man is a match for her – I think I have him but until I am completely certain, she is going to have to stay put.
Don’t you love when you are writing with a plan in mind and suddenly, the book evolves into something completely different? Characters are organized and plots are loosely laid. You can actually eke out a synopsis, thank God, and maybe sell it on proposal with the first three chapters. Then you begin writing only to discover you were so very wrong, and now have to quit the book or change it. These little devils of our imagination literally grow in leaps and bounds and take over the book. Of course, they don’t give a crap. They are not paid for their story – it’s all on us to sell them – but they just want to be born and do what they want.
The good news? You know there is always good news. The surprise element. When our expectations do not go as planned and the outcome is even better. When the book soars to new heights defining any outline. When your child makes you laugh out loud or cry because they have done something completely unexpected and suddenly you SEE them for who they are. When your husband buys you a diamond ring in the Cayman Islands and shrugs the whole thing off because he just loves you, and isn’t that reason enough?